Leading journalist organisations, including the Press Club of India and the Indian Women’s Press Corps, on Tuesday slammed the “draconian” Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2017 tabled by the Rajasthan government, saying it restrains the media from acting as a “watchdog and ombudsman of society”.
In a letter to Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia, they said the Bill, which was earlier in the form of an ordinance and promulgated on September 6, seeks to protect public servants from allegations arising out of possible vested interests and restrains the reporting by the media of any possible allegations made against such officers.
Not only does this clampdown on reporting militate against public interest as the public are impacted by government policies and decisions – good or bad – but the Bill subverts the basic freedom of the press which is enshrined in the spirit of Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution, said the organisations that also included the Press Association and the Federation of Press Clubs in India.
In their letter, forwarded to the media, they noted that “it is ironic and unfortunate that at a time when there is a great demand and an even greater need for public accountability and transparency, your government appears to be moving in the opposite direction”.
They urged the Chief Minister to withdraw the Bill as neither is it in the public interest, nor does it serve the aims and objectives of our vibrant democracy.